Today’s article was written by Andrew Bodman who watched the Transport Select Committee session on the case in favour of High Speed Rail on Tuesday 28th June
Several interesting points emerged from the second session of the Transport Select Committee (June 28th) in its review of high speed rail.
The cost benefit ratio for HS2 apparently provides a flimsy case – this view came from Professor David Begg who leads the Yes to High Speed Rail campaign.
Jim Steer (Greengauge 21) suggested that we may need an additional high speed north south line in the future. Later a similar sentiment was suggested by Geoff Inskip (Centro) who thought it might be better to four track the line from the outset. Are they both suggesting that we may have a capacity issue between London and Birmingham?
Geoffrey Piper (NW Business leadership Team) suggested that BBC Salford will become an international media centre which will create great demand for travel between London and Manchester. It is good to know that we have such a strong reason for building HS2.
Stephen Clark (Core Cities group) shares Lord Berkeley’s view (one of last week’s panellists) that there may be track congestion north of Lichfield between the opening of phase 1 and phase 2.
Daniel Moylan (Transport for London) who was also representing the Mayor had a number of fresh angles. He suggested that once HS2 phase 2 is completed, Euston may need another tube line to cope with the additional flow of passengers. Further information is awaited from the DfT; if this is the case, there would be an additional cost of £6-9bn. He also suggested that there could be issues in sharing a section of the North London Line for the connection to HS1, as the North London Line is experiencing significant commuter growth. He pointed out that the Old Oak Common site is very constrained by other features and has poor accessibility by road. Lastly he said that Heathrow is operating at full capacity on its two runways, and Birmingham airport does not address that issue for business travellers.
I have selected only a small number of points that were made in two and a half hours, and I accept that I am anti HS2. However the very purpose of setting up this Transport Select Committee investigation was to challenge the rationale for HS2.